The interviews you are about to read are the
voices of only a handful: Hundreds of thousands Guatemalan
Indigenous People were victimized during 36 years of a
bloody Civil war. Operating extensively in isolated and
remote areas of the Guatemalan highlands, the Guatemalan
army went practically unchecked by a polarized public and
its invariably corrupt governments.
While presumably going after leftist rebel forces who were
challenging the government over the grave social injustices
suffered by a dispossessed rural population, the army
inflicted atrocities onto vast numbers of Mayan civilians.
Finally - bowing to the rising International pressure and
the withdrawal of US-military aid to the government, a peace
accord was signed on the 29th of December 1996, in wich both
parties committied themselves to work together towards peace
and economic reconcilliation in Guatemala.
Addressing the needs and losses of those who suffered most
should have been the clear priority of any peace agreement.
Only that - the same political forces responsible for
atrocities of the past continue to shape the present
political landscape of Guatemala. Once again the Indigenous
population find themselves sidelined, with little help given
in picking up the pieces of their shattered past...
From early on Mayans have been victimized by
ever encroaching Non-Indian ruling classes. From the early
European conquest to the rise of the mixed heritage Ladino
culture of Central America and the modern effects of
globalization, Mayans always paid the price - a price for
peace as well as a price for war.
This is not to say there is no hope for areas like Nebaj,
Quichè - one of the areas that have been hit hardest
by the civil war.
One of many local and international organizations who are
trying to tackle the practical challenges on the long way to
recovery is called 'El Movimiento' - a welcome abbreviation
for its official title: " El Movimiento de los Desarraigados
del Norte del Quichè y su Asociación
Movimiento Comunitario en el Norte del Quichè"...
Part of the grievances that grew out of the civil war are
land rights conflicts between countless individuals,
communities, corporations and the Guatemalan state - they
urgently need to be addressed. Wrongful death,
dispossession, displacement and the subsequent forced
re-assignments of land are issues the 'Movimiento' as a
community self help group is particularly involved in.
The nine individuals we spoke with are all part of the
'Movimiento' in one way or another: Volunteers,
beneficiaries, functionaries, claimants - often with no one
to claim from in the absence of funds or government
acknowledgment. They live in different villages surrounding
Nebaj. Some were extremely poor by any standard. Many don't
express their individuality the way outsiders do:
What they would not express seemed equally revealing:
Personal goals. Plans. Hobbies. Diversion. Dreams...all
concepts most of us can't imagine doing without.
Let us be clear: 'Having a Dream' may be 'Priceless' in our
Credit Cards world. In the world of Nebaj however, there is
a price to be paid for everything. Even dreaming - may be
all but unaffordable.
Read the fine print: "Not everybody qualifies"